White Lightning


1h 41m 1973
White Lightning

Brief Synopsis

A convicted moonshiner helps police track down the bayou bad guys who killed his brother.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Action
Adventure
Crime
Release Date
Jan 1973
Premiere Information
not available
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)

Synopsis

After Gator McKlusky is arrested for selling moonshine, the police agree to set him free if he will help them catch the main players in the local whiskey-running business. Gator agrees in order to get out of jail, and for revenge, because the ring leader of his competition is the man who killed his younger brother.

Videos

Movie Clip

White Lightning (1973) - All Them Damn Hippies Scenes introducing leading man Burt Reynolds as convicted Arkansas bootlegger Gator McClusky, Lincoln Demyan the warden, Barbara Muller his distraught cousin, discussing the murder from the opening scene, in White Lightning, 1973, also starring Ned Beatty and Bo Hopkins.
White Lightning (1973) - I Don't Rightly Know Provisionally paroled on a promise to help prosecute a crooked sheriff, bootlegger Gator (Burt Reynolds) visits his parents (Dabbs Greer, Iris Korn), bereaved over the murder of their younger son, at their Arkansas farm, in White Lightning, 1973, directed by Joseph Sargent.
White Lightning (1973) - Open, Donny With the credits, Ned Beatty, whom we'll learn is a crooked Arkansas sheriff, murders two college students, one of whom plays the brother of leading man Burt Reynolds, (as bootlegger Gator McClusky), in his breakout action hit White Lightning, 1973, directed by Joseph Sargent.
White Lightning (1973) - I'm Talking About My Brother! Nice scene for the always under-appreciated Matt Clark as mechanic/bootlegger Dude, as Gator (Burt Reynolds), working with the feds, presses him for info about the crooked sheriff who killed his brother, Dianne Ladd as Dude’s wife, the girl on the tire swing her real daughter, Laura Dern, in White Lightning, 1973.
White Lightning (1973) - Women And The Po-lice Working undercover for the feds, Gator (Burt Reynolds) finishes buddying up to bootlegger Roy (Bo Hopkins) then insists that Dude (Matt Clark) introduce him to Sheriff Connors (Ned Beatty), the object of his vengeance, in White Lightning, 1973, location shooting in downtown Benton, Arkansas.

Hosted Intro

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Action
Adventure
Crime
Release Date
Jan 1973
Premiere Information
not available
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)

Articles

White Lightning


Burt Reynolds had developed into a much in-demand actor since his start in the TV series Riverboat (1959-60), Gunsmoke (1962-65), and the title roles in Hawk(1966) and Dan August (1970-71). He broke through to top movie stardom with Deliverance (1972), but his role as bootlegger Gator McKlusky in White Lightning (1973) set the tone for the films that kept him firmly in the superstar strata throughout the 1970s. Often referred to as "redneck flicks," such films as W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings (1975), Smokey and the Bandit (1977), and Hooper (1978) traded on some of the most blatant stereotypes of the South ­ corrupt politicians and law enforcers, car chases, irascible outlaws, and sexy Daisy Duke-clad beauties. But the popularity of the films lay in their comic tone, playing the normally cliched elements cartoonishly, and in Reynolds' self-mocking machismo.

"White lightning," of course, is another term for moonshine whiskey, the basis for this tale of backwoods intrigue and action. Reynolds is Gator, a bootlegger enlisted by the Treasury Department (or what Granny Clampett used to call "revenooers") to nab the corrupt (what else?) and bigoted Sheriff Connors, played by Ned Beatty, who had co-starred with Reynolds in Deliverance. Connors has his own moonshine business operating on the side. The lawman was also responsible for the death of Gator's brother, and that provides his real motive for working with the Feds. With the help of a souped-up car, another bootlegger (Bo Hopkins), and a sexy girlfriend (Jennifer Billingsley), Gator gets the goods on the sheriff. But not before engaging in the major delight and raison d'etre of movies of this type ­ the uproarious antics of stunt drivers on dirt roads and through the swamps of the film's Arkansas location shoot.

Reynolds revived the character in the sequel Gator (1976), his first feature film directing project, which had TV talk show host Mike Douglas in the role of an ambitious state governor and Lauren Hutton as the love interest. Hopkins co-starred with Reynolds again in The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973), but future "redneck" romps most often featured singer-turned-actor Jerry Reed in the sidekick role. Beatty also appeared with Reynolds again, in W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings but never again portrayed the corrupt sheriff thrown for a loop by Reynolds' lovable misfit. That role was most memorably taken by Jackie Gleason as Sheriff Buford T. Pusser in Smokey and the Bandit and Smokey and the Bandit II (1980). This was Billingsley's only outing with Reynolds; the "girl" role was taken over later by his off-screen love interest at the time, Oscar winner Sally Field.

White Lightning also features an early film appearance by Dianne Ladd, just prior to her roles in Chinatown (1974) and as the sharp-tongued Flo in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974). And look for a little girl making her film debut ­ Laura Dern, daughter of Ladd and actor Bruce Dern.

Director: Joseph Sargent
Producers: Arthur Gardner, Jules Levy
Screenplay: William H. Norton
Cinematography: Edward Rosson
Editing: George J. Nicholson
Music: Charles Bernstein
Cast: Burt Reynolds (Gator McKlusky), Ned Beatty (Sheriff Connors), Bo Hopkins (Roy Boone), Jennifer Billingsley (Lou), Diane Ladd (Maggie), Matt Clark (Dude Watson), Louise Latham (Martha Culpepper), R.G. Armstrong (Big Bear).
C-102m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Rob Nixon

White Lightning

White Lightning

Burt Reynolds had developed into a much in-demand actor since his start in the TV series Riverboat (1959-60), Gunsmoke (1962-65), and the title roles in Hawk(1966) and Dan August (1970-71). He broke through to top movie stardom with Deliverance (1972), but his role as bootlegger Gator McKlusky in White Lightning (1973) set the tone for the films that kept him firmly in the superstar strata throughout the 1970s. Often referred to as "redneck flicks," such films as W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings (1975), Smokey and the Bandit (1977), and Hooper (1978) traded on some of the most blatant stereotypes of the South ­ corrupt politicians and law enforcers, car chases, irascible outlaws, and sexy Daisy Duke-clad beauties. But the popularity of the films lay in their comic tone, playing the normally cliched elements cartoonishly, and in Reynolds' self-mocking machismo. "White lightning," of course, is another term for moonshine whiskey, the basis for this tale of backwoods intrigue and action. Reynolds is Gator, a bootlegger enlisted by the Treasury Department (or what Granny Clampett used to call "revenooers") to nab the corrupt (what else?) and bigoted Sheriff Connors, played by Ned Beatty, who had co-starred with Reynolds in Deliverance. Connors has his own moonshine business operating on the side. The lawman was also responsible for the death of Gator's brother, and that provides his real motive for working with the Feds. With the help of a souped-up car, another bootlegger (Bo Hopkins), and a sexy girlfriend (Jennifer Billingsley), Gator gets the goods on the sheriff. But not before engaging in the major delight and raison d'etre of movies of this type ­ the uproarious antics of stunt drivers on dirt roads and through the swamps of the film's Arkansas location shoot. Reynolds revived the character in the sequel Gator (1976), his first feature film directing project, which had TV talk show host Mike Douglas in the role of an ambitious state governor and Lauren Hutton as the love interest. Hopkins co-starred with Reynolds again in The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973), but future "redneck" romps most often featured singer-turned-actor Jerry Reed in the sidekick role. Beatty also appeared with Reynolds again, in W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings but never again portrayed the corrupt sheriff thrown for a loop by Reynolds' lovable misfit. That role was most memorably taken by Jackie Gleason as Sheriff Buford T. Pusser in Smokey and the Bandit and Smokey and the Bandit II (1980). This was Billingsley's only outing with Reynolds; the "girl" role was taken over later by his off-screen love interest at the time, Oscar winner Sally Field. White Lightning also features an early film appearance by Dianne Ladd, just prior to her roles in Chinatown (1974) and as the sharp-tongued Flo in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974). And look for a little girl making her film debut ­ Laura Dern, daughter of Ladd and actor Bruce Dern. Director: Joseph Sargent Producers: Arthur Gardner, Jules Levy Screenplay: William H. Norton Cinematography: Edward Rosson Editing: George J. Nicholson Music: Charles Bernstein Cast: Burt Reynolds (Gator McKlusky), Ned Beatty (Sheriff Connors), Bo Hopkins (Roy Boone), Jennifer Billingsley (Lou), Diane Ladd (Maggie), Matt Clark (Dude Watson), Louise Latham (Martha Culpepper), R.G. Armstrong (Big Bear). C-102m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Rob Nixon

Quotes

Only two things in the world I'm scared of
- Gator McKlusky
Only scared of two things, what's that?
- Sheriff Connors
Women and the police.
- Gator McKlusky

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1973

Released in United States June 1973

Released in United States on Video December 1981

Original video distributor was CBS/Fox

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1973

Released in United States June 1973

Released in United States on Video December 1981